This term is used to describe something very good or desirable. In my mind I associate it with automobile or motorcycle enthusiasts, who will describe a very fast, hot, or attractive vehicle as “bitchin'.” This connection is reinforced by the
song, “Bitchin’ Camaro,” by the satirical punk band Dead Milkmen. I understand that the song itself is considered bitchin’.
I would place this use as emerging in the late 1960's. A letter to Dear Abby in 1968 from a high school student stated that “one of my friends, who happens to be a very nice girl, wrote 'Have a bitchin' summer' in his yearbook. When my mother saw that she flew into a rage and hit the ceiling.” He implores Abby to “explain that 'bitchin'—when used by the kids today—means ‘groovy, neat or cool.’”
This form of the term bitch would seem to run counter to the negative and derogatory nature seen in its other manifestations. However, despite its affirming qualities, it seems reasonable to infer that the implication is that the object so described is like a desirable female. While attractive and admired, the object's function is to be possessed and enhance the status of the owner. The relationship is unlikely to be one of reciprocity.
1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth. 2000. Bartleby.com. Accessed February 13 2002 from http:// www.bartleby.com/61/.
2. Not Believed, and Abigail Van Buren.
1968. Dear Abby. Press Telegram, Aug 26, B7.